Canon 3.1: Outside Business
The court is a court professional’s primary employment. A court professional shall avoid outside activities, including outside employment, business activities, even subsequent employment and business activities after leaving judicial
service, that reflect negatively upon the judicial branch and on one’s own professionalism.
A court professional shall notify the appropriate authority prior to accepting work or engaging in business outside of one’s court duties.
A court professional shall not request or accept any compensation or fee beyond that received from their employer for work done in the course of their public employment.
However, court professionals may engage in outside employment as long as it does not conflict with the performance of their official responsibilities or violate this code.
Outside employment is a potentially complex area. At least two ethical principles should be considered in relation to outside employment or consulting work. First, the work should not create a real or perceived conflict of interest between one’s court work and the outside activity. For example, it would not be appropriate to do outside consulting work for a law firm operating in the court’s jurisdiction, even if the court employee takes leave from a court job to
do so. Similarly it would not be appropriate to do consulting work for a vendor who also supplies services or products to the court. In both examples, such work may erode the steadfast impartiality that court professionals must maintain in their work for the court.
The second principle is frequently discussed when considering these topics, but generates far more debate. In many jurisdictions, court employees are prohibited or discouraged from outside employment which may “impugn the dignity of the court.” Examples of such activities may include working in an adult entertainment venue, or at certain bars, taverns or pawn shops. Some may feel strongly that as long as there is no material, practical, specific conflict between outside employment and court work, it is not the court’s business to dictate outside activities. On the other hand, many others feel just as strongly that court employees ought to avoid outside activities that may erode the general sense of dignity and respect the court must maintain with the public.
Compensation Beyond that Received in the Course of Employment
Many courts permit employees to engage in limited consulting work while employed. If employees are paid from a separately entity as consultants, they would be expected to take leave from the court.
Outside Employment Not in Conflict with Official Responsibilities
An example would be teaching night classes at a community college or university.